Dark chocolate is made from tropical cacao tree seeds. Its earliest use date back to the Olmec civilization in Mesoamerica. Dark chocolate has 65 percent or higher cocoa content.
Heart Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is good for your heart. A small bar of it every day can help keep your heart and cardiovascular system running well. Two heart health benefits of dark chocolate are:
Lower blood pressure: Studies have shown that consuming a small bar of dark chocolate every day can reduce blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure.
Lower cholesterol: Dark chocolate has also been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) by up to 10 percent.
Chocolate also holds benefits apart from protecting your heart:
It tastes good
It stimulates endorphin production, which gives a feeling of pleasure
It contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant
It contains theobromine, caffeine and other substances which are stimulants
Doesn't Chocolate Have a lot of Fat?
Here is some more good news: some of the fats in chocolate do not impact your cholesterol. The fats in chocolate are 1/3 oleic acid, 1/3 stearic acid and 1/3 palmitic acid:
Oleic Acid is a healthy monounsaturated fat that is also found in olive oil.
Stearic Acid is a saturated fat but one which research is shows has a neutral effect on cholesterol.
Palmitic Acid is also a saturated fat, one which raises cholesterol and heart disease risk.
That means only 1/3 of the fat in dark chocolate is bad for you.
Balance the Calories
This information doesn't mean that you should eat a pound of chocolate a day. Chocolate is still a high-calorie, high-fat food. Most of the studies done used no more than 100 grams, or about 3.5 ounces, of dark chocolate a day to get the benefits.
One bar of dark chocolate has around 400 calories. If you eat half a bar of chocolate a day, you must balance those 200 calories by eating less of something else. Cut out other sweets or snacks and replace them with chocolate to keep your total calories the same